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Girls basketball: Ruskey, Middle Twp. make statement by handing Atlantic City its first loss of season

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic City girls basketball team came into Thursday night’s matchup with Middle Township sporting a perfect 10-0 record, and the Vikings have been the talk of the Cape-Atlantic League as the leaders of the American Conference. The visiting Panthers came in as one of the best road teams in the league and were looking to make a statement that they will be a team to contend with down the stretch in both the league tournament and state playoffs. Consider the statement made. Junior forward Bridget Ruskey exploded for 17 points in the second half — including the first nine of the third quarter — as Middle Township came from behind to beat the Vikings 46-40 and become the league’s fourth team in double-digit wins. Wildwood Catholic leads the way at 11-1 while Atlantic City, Mainland Regional and now Middle Township all have 10 wins. “Atlantic City has a real good team, and it’s always good to go on the road and figure out a way to win. I thought we did a lot of good things. I don’t know that we played particularly well, but we figured it out, and we found a way to get a W,” said Middle Township coach John Leahy. “I’m probably being a little tough on my girls, but we definitely dug in and got stops when we had to and got big rebounds. We made some big foul shots down the stretch that helped us keep our lead to two possessions. I’m really happy to beat a team like Atlantic City.” Atlantic City's Syria Bass brings the ball up against Middle Township. Atlantic City’s Syria Bass brings the ball up against Middle Township. “It was not a good offensive day for us. That’s the best I can say,” Lantz said. “They did a great job on us and took away what makes us good. They took away our second-chance points, they rebounded well and they were really tough against our press. They didn’t turn it over too much.” Atlantic City had just one player, Wright, score in double figures, as she finished with 10 points. Essex added nine and Glaze eight, but the Panthers countered with a combined 14 points from Jenna Herlihy and Olivia Nelson. Lantz said the Vikings will use the loss as a motivation to get focused for the second half of the season. “We were fortunate enough to have a very nice run at 10-0, but the reality is it’s very hard to go undefeated. You get a little relaxed and start thinking every team is going to come in and allow you to do what you do. But Middle Township came in and said, no,” Lantz said. “But it does give us a chance to get refocused and to work on our defense. I keep saying in practice that we are a little lackadaisical, and this is why I keep saying it, because any night, anything can happen. The other team can play great and you can not play great and you lose.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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